Yesterday, we asked the puzzling question, “How can clouds float in the air?” Clouds are made of water, which is heavier than air, so how can clouds float on air? The short answer is they don’t. We have two things to learn: the clouds are falling, and only God can tell the clouds what to do.
If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, I suggest you read it for background. But, for now, let’s return to where we left off in Job 38, where God speaks of clouds as He challenges Job and his friends. These are God’s words in verses 34-38:
“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?”
God asks Job if he can tell the clouds what to do, sending rain when the ground is dry. Of course, the answer is “No.” Human wisdom and understanding can’t do that, but God can. Before God spoke to him, Job seemed to believe that sometimes God used rain as a form of punishment (Job 37:13). God did withhold rain from Israel for years because of the evil leadership of Ahab and Jezebel, but Elijah’s prayer brought it back.
So does God make a practice of withholding rain as a punishment? Not according to Jesus. He told us to love our enemies, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
We cannot tell the clouds what to do, whether we want it to rain or not rain. Only God can do that, but He is not a punishing old man in the sky ready to withhold rain or zap us with lightning if we misbehave. Many people have that confused idea, but the Bible does not support it. God sends sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust through the weather system He created. All weather conditions occur naturally according to God’s designed system, except in rare cases when He intervened with a timing miracle.
Let’s get back to our original question about clouds. They are water and sometimes ice, so how can they float in the air? The answer is that they don’t float. They are falling very gradually. Any unsupported object will fall to the ground because of Earth’s gravity. As it falls faster, the friction of the air molecules increases.
Any falling object will eventually reach terminal velocity when the friction force equals the pull of gravity. We can ignore the air friction for a bowling ball because it is minuscule compared to the ball’s weight. However, the weight of a water droplet in a cloud with a diameter measured in microns is minuscule, so the terminal velocity may be less than a hundred feet per hour. When you consider that clouds are thousands of feet in the air, that “falling” is too slow for us to notice. The water droplets may “dissolve” into the air before they fall very far. When they converge into larger droplets, they fall more quickly as rain.
The bottom line is, yes, the clouds are falling, but you will only notice it when they fall as rain. The more important point is that only God can tell the clouds what to do. The most important thing to remember is that God’s love sends sunshine and rain for everyone, even for those who refuse to recognize His existence.
— Roland Earnst © 2023